Sustainability-Focused Innovation Underpins Financial Success at Alpine Waste

Sustainability4SMEs
| Monday January 5th, 2015 | 0 Comments

Editor’s Note: This is the third post in a three-part series on sustainably-focused innovation at Alpine Waste & Recycling. In case you missed it, you can read the first part here and the second part here

Alpine ASR 1 smallBy Graham Russell

Part 1 and Part 2 of this series on Alpine Waste & Recycling described how the company has used sustainability thinking to carve out a unique position as a sustainability leader in its regional market. Here we describe how this strategy has been the key factor in its rapid growth and financial success.

Although the company has not made a particular effort to actively engage its entire workforce in its sustainability initiatives outside of recycling in the workplace, it was critical for the sales group to change the way it represented the company’s services, pitching its sustainability offerings as a key selling point. According to founder and CEO John Griffith, this required a lot of work and something of a culture change. These days, sustainability is at the heart of the company’s selling proposition to potential new customers: Its Automated Sustainability Reporting or ASR system enables Alpine to quantify very precisely what it can help a new customer accomplish in environmental terms through recycling and composting.

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How the United States Seal Promotes Sustainability

Bard College MBA | Monday January 5th, 2015 | 1 Comment

US-GreatSeal-ObverseBy Victoria Marino

What is your vision for the world?

My favorite person once said to me, “We’re doing life together.” That is how I want to live my life. Every day. It’s what I envision for the world.

Unfortunately, our culture values individuality over unity, perceiving them as mutually exclusive. Joseph Campbell’s “The Power of Myth” speaks of a society that no longer attends to the inner life and lacks myths to live by. Without benchmarks or archetypal wisdom, we are rapt with consumer-driven desires. We have become perpetual receivers of information.

If we are to transform our culture into one that values togetherness while still appealing to individual interest, I believe the place to start is with a symbol. In the wake of recent revelations, I was moved to return to the origins of our country.

The Great Seal of our nation skillfully encapsulates the principles and ethics worth living by. Created as an official signature to enable the newly-founded nation to sign treaties, it sealed our vows to other nations. To design America’s emblem, Congress employed the acumen of Charles Thompson, the Secretary of the Continental Congress. A founding father, though not well known in our history, Thompson was esteemed by his peers for his integrity, fairness and quest for truth. To his peers, no one better embodied the nation’s vision or could as finely articulate it as Thompson. Pulling together the strongest elements of attempts from previous committees, Thompson’s final design amounted to a written description:

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DEADLINE EXTENDED: Win a Trip to Abu Dhabi: Masdar’s ADSW Blogging Contest

Marissa Rosen
| Saturday January 3rd, 2015 | 1 Comment

abu dhabi sustainability weekTriplePundit has been sharing news from Masdar in the United Arab Emirates and covering developments in the Gulf region with great interest over the past few years. 

DEADLINE EXTENDED TO JAN 5th.  ENTER NOW!

Now’s your chance to travel to Abu Dhabi to see what’s happening!

As a lead-up to Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week, Jan. 17-24, 2015, Masdar is sponsoring a blogging contest called “Describe the ideal city in 2030” The winner will be invited to Abu Dhabi as VIP media to cover the week’s high-profile events. In 2014, ADSW welcomed over 32,000 participants from 170 countries to high-level panels, plenaries and events. This week in 2015 promises to be an equally exciting and busy one – and Masdar wants you to be there blogging and tweeting about all the action!

This year’s blogging contest is all about creativity and forecasting the future. Describe the ideal city in 2030.

The world’s urban centers are now firmly on the frontline of sustainability and innovation. Cities are confronted with maintaining a trajectory of economic growth, while reducing resource demand and addressing climate risk. With the rise of urbanization, the world’s cities must also offer complete communities – a place to live, work and play – while being pillars of sustainability. Creating growth, while minimizing their impact, is a tremendous opportunity for cities – they offer numerous opportunities to spur new ideas, develop more innovative technologies, strengthen industry and enhance our lifestyle. Based on what you see occurring in urban planning, along with developments in water, waste, energy, food production and transportation, what will your city look like in 2030?

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Vancouver, BC Canada: 2030

Jan Lee
Jan Lee | Friday January 2nd, 2015 | 0 Comments

This post is Jan Lee’s entry into the 2015 Masdar Engage Blogging Contest.

Vancouver_2184_Jan_LeeThe sustainable city of the future builds for tomorrow, respects the lessons of the past and harnesses the opportunities afforded by the present. For Vancouver, Canada’s most populous West Coast city, that approach has been part of its vision for years.

In 2009, when the city realized that its burgeoning metropolis would eventually exhaust the area’s natural resources, it launched its Greenest City 2020 initiative, a preliminary and bold aim at sustainability in the 21st century. The year 2030 will see a city where climate change, growth and demand will be met with smart transportation infrastructure, innovative energy use and production, and adaptable living environments that meet the needs of an inclusive society.

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National Security Will Be Achieved Through Energy

3p Contributor | Friday January 2nd, 2015 | 2 Comments

michael aperBy Michael Aper

When Arthur Schlesinger, John F. Kennedy’s assistant secretary of cultural relations, first learned of the CIA’s plan to invade Cuba, he told the young president: “At one [pen] stoke [he] would dissipate all the extraordinary goodwill which has been rising toward the new administration through the world. It would fix a malevolent image of the new administration in the minds of millions.” The great historian Schlesinger reminds us that history, in its multiplicity of influences, is also an image that imprints itself on the cultural psyche.

After the Sept. 11 attacks, it became clear that America needed to adapt to a new type of threat. Since the attacks, America has spent over $5 trillion on the wars against terrorism. Yet, areas throughout the Middle East are rife with sectarian conflict. One of the main actors has consistently been the United States, and regardless of the motives or designs, the image has been one of malevolence: America, the consumptive leviathan of the West. Terrorists leverage this negative image of America to gain support for their cause creating a major discontinuity in the global economy and driving the greatest threat to global commons.

Today, America’s vast centralized energy systems remain vulnerable to both physical and cyber attack. In 2013, a sniper attack in California disabled PG&E’s Metcalf transmission station costing the company millions of dollars. The damage caused by the attack took employees 27 days to repair.

Creating resilient, decentralized energy systems is the most proactive way to achieve long-term national security in the 21st century. Energy security offers a framework to change world perceptions and move America towards creating a more resilient economy. It presents an opportunity to embrace the development of public-private partnerships and international-interagency collaboration. At the same time, it is a cost-effective way to implement renewable energies.

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What Does the Future Hold for the Landfill Ecosystem?

RP Siegel | Friday January 2nd, 2015 | 0 Comments

3038137915_cbf1b3f119_oYou don’t have to be a tree-hugger to recognize the fact that we can’t forever continue to take raw materials out of the Earth, use a lot of energy to convert them into briefly-useful products and then pile them into huge landfills. If you understand that, then you get the gist of what sustainability is about. A sustainable future is one where nothing is wasted. Indeed, the idea of zero waste, whether we’re talking about factories or homes, has already taken root.

That means we could find ourselves in a place in the not-too-distant future, where we have no more need for landfills. While that would be a glorious achievement, there are those who could find it a hardship.

That would include those like 13-year-old Inusa Mohammed and his friend Kwesi Bido, who is a year older. The two of them spend their afternoons scrounging through the Agbogbloshie landfill in Accra, the capital city of Ghana, looking for bits of copper or electronic remnants that they might be able to exchange for a few coins. The boys will burn the plastic insulation off the wiring to collect the precious copper inside, heedless of the dangers that dwell within the toxic fumes. The dump is full of other dangers — ranging from broken glass to exploding aerosol cans, to the ubiquitous lead that lurks inside of old and broken computer monitors as well as arsenic and mercury and other deadly toxins.

Agbogbloshie, and places like it, represent the end of the road for your old computer, cell phone or TV. Electronics recyclers here at home are often overwhelmed, especially with things like old cathode ray tube (CRT) monitors and TVs for which there is no longer a market. That means some of it gets shipped off, albeit illegally, to places like this.

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Transportation Logistics Trouble Wind Energy Industry

Sarah Lozanova | Friday January 2nd, 2015 | 44 Comments

wind energy manufacturingThere are now more than 45,000 wind turbines in operation in the U.S., and the installed capacity continues to grow quickly. The wind energy industry is, however, experiencing logistical issues that impact the bottom line and wind energy deployment.

Although policy uncertainty continues to plague the renewable energy industry, overcoming transportation issues are a tangible way to help bolster wind energy growth by lowering costs and reducing delays.

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5 Reasons Companies Should Utilize the Cloud

3p Contributor | Friday January 2nd, 2015 | 1 Comment

7557181168_91f4af2d99_zBy Jessica Oaks

Trends in business tend to change often and quickly, but one trend that can’t be ignored is the move towards the cloud. Put simply, more and more businesses are adopting cloud-based storage and software solutions with each passing year. In fact, it is estimated that by 2015 spending on cloud storage solutions could reach $180 billion. Suffice it to say, a decentralized approach seems to be the golden ticket these days.

The question, then, isn’t whether cloud-based systems will catch on – as the numbers show, they already have – but rather why are cloud-based solutions becoming the go-to for businesses large and small? And, should you be a business owner yourself, are cloud-based storage solutions right for your organization? In short, there are many reasons why companies should utilize the cloud, and yes, that includes your business. Let’s take a look at why that is the case.

There are numerous benefits to adopting a cloud-based solution. Chief among them, however, are the following:

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Is Your Outdated Office Technology Hurting the Environment?

3p Contributor | Friday January 2nd, 2015 | 0 Comments

Macintosh Plus :: Retrocomputing on the greenBy Aleks Szymanski

Outdated office technology is often left as it is, only being replaced when it finally dies or becomes utterly obsolete, as many business owners tend to avoid the cost to upgrade or change their technology.

What these businesses may not realize is that not only is this going to cost them more money in the long run, but there is also the environmental impact of outdated technology to consider.

Many businesses believe they have ‘green credentials,’ when in fact there is more they can do to reduce their carbon footprint.

1. Improving server rooms

Data centers and servers are the biggest offenders when it comes to IT inefficiency. There are a number of ways that a business can reduce both cost and carbon emissions by improving the efficiency of their server rooms. Most small server rooms were not designed to operate as server spaces, with configurations that compromise energy efficiency and limit upgrade options, resulting in higher carbon emissions. On average, it has been calculated that a low-range server in the U.S. generates 793 kilograms of carbon dioxide emissions per year.

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Panera Bread Shares Animal Welfare Progress

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Friday January 2nd, 2015 | 0 Comments

chickensIn late December, Panera Bread shared its progress on reducing antibiotic use and cruel confinement for farm animals in its U.S. supply chain.

The company introduced its food policy in June, and part of that policy is being transparent and making a positive impact on the food system.

Panera owns 1,845 bakery-cafes in 45 states and in Ontario, Canada that operate under the Panera Bread, Saint Louis Bread Co. or Paradise Bakery & Cafe names.

“For years, Panera has been working closely with farmers, ranchers and experts, to learn how we can tangibly improve conditions for the farm animals in our supply chain. We’ve intentionally reduced or eliminated the use of antibiotics and confinement because we believe those are among the most critical animal welfare issues we can impact,” said Blaine Hurst, executive vice president and chief transformation and growth officer for the company.

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Business Sustainability Prompted by Activism in 2014

3p Contributor | Thursday January 1st, 2015 | 0 Comments

tripunditBy Michael Green

The Harvard Business Review (HBR) recently posted a “top 10” list of the most important sustainable business stories of 2014. Given the gravity of the situation, it’s appropriate that the first five stories are around climate change (although it’s a little troubling that the No. 1 story for sustainable business is described as “climate change is now.” Wasn’t that a top story of 1999? Are sustainable businesses really just figuring this out?)

For health and environmental advocates, an even more compelling aspect of the HBR 2014 review is the number of top stories showing that businesses are changing in response to citizen activism. Five of the 10 stories reflect issues that were first brought to light by grassroots activism, including four that directly relate to activists’ role in influencing corporate behavior.

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New York State Wineries Dodge a Fracking Bullet … Or Maybe Not

| Thursday January 1st, 2015 | 4 Comments

natural gas frackingIf you heard that loud sighing sound coming from New York state earlier this month, that was probably a sigh of relief as Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo finally agreed to a statewide ban on fracking. The ban followed the release of the state’s Department of Health study, which basically concluded that the known unknowns of this unconventional method of drilling for natural gas amounted to a significant potential for adverse public health impacts that could not be ignored.

We’re also guessing that business considerations came into play. In the past, fracking was generally confined to thinly populated areas of the western U.S. Now that it has become more common in the more heavily developed Northeast, fracking has been bumping up against pushback from stakeholders in established, local businesses. News of the fracking ban was probably most welcome by New York’s thriving upstate tourism and agriculture sectors, both of which come together in the growing popularity of winery tours.

However, the cheering had barely died down before news items from communities in New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Ohio reminded us that the fracking operation itself is only one part of the complex natural gas lifecycle. New York’s wineries are not out of the woods yet. When you consider the transportation and storage issues involved in getting natural gas out of the ground and into market, additional risks for local businesses emerge. The fracking ban does not address those risks.

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Let’s Change Your Name to ‘Single': The Impact of Defining Homeless People By What They Lack

3p Contributor | Thursday January 1st, 2015 | 0 Comments

HGP allWhat is the most important thing that you would like to have but lack?

Perhaps you don’t have a significant other. Or a job that fulfills you. Or maybe you have not traveled very far.

Whatever it may be in your case, odds are that what you lack does not define you, at least in the eyes of others. You are a friend, you are a colleague, you are a runner, you are a painter, you are funny, you are you. You may lack something very important, but it is probably not your primary identity.

Unless you are homeless.

People who live on the streets — people like Silas, Jessica, Adam and my Uncle Mark, before he passed away — are defined by what they lack. During their period(s) on the streets, their identity is cemented. Can you imagine being described by others primarily as a “housed” person? This would feel dehumanizing and reductionistic, and yet it is still something you possess. Being labeled solely as “homeless” is extremely awful in and of itself.

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5 Places Transformed by Climate Change in 2014

Jan Lee
Jan Lee | Wednesday December 31st, 2014 | 24 Comments

climate_change_epa_planetlightThis past year could be called a test case for climate change. Scary as that sounds, 2014 has seen a broad spectrum of quirky events, ranging from drought and flooding to the loss of sea ice and glacier mass. There’s been some oddly good news as well: Some species continue to find their own way to adapt to climatic changes, opting for new environmental zones or alternative food sources. What will be our new way of adapting? Will we lead the pack, or follow suit?

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Nominate Your 2014 Sustainability Winners and Losers

Bill Roth | Wednesday December 31st, 2014 | 11 Comments

11684332733_cc8e41417b_zHave you been grinding your teeth all year wishing you had a forum to tell it like it is on who is helping or hurting the adoption of sustainable solutions to economic growth and enhanced human health? Here is your chance! The following are some of my observations. But more importantly, post what you think in the comments section below this article.

2014 in review

2014 was definitely a year of conflicting results in terms of sustainability. Dishearteningly, the World Meteorological Organization reported a “carbon surge” in climate-changing emissions to 142 percent of pre-industrial levels. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change analysis raised an alarm that this carbon surge was approaching a point of “severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts for people and ecosystems.”

2014 also saw milestone growth in the green economic revolution: American consumers, lead by the millennial generation, are buying into a green economic revolution that in 2014 generated trillions of dollars in global commerce and investments. But the question raised in 2014 is whether this green economic revolution will be a case of too little, too late.

So, with these conflicting results who were 2014’s sustainability winners and losers?

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